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How do you keep calm at a competition?

Rubiks560

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Hey, just curious, how do you keep calm when under pressure at competitions?
I haven't found a good way to keep calm yet, with people telling me "Hey break WR!" or something similar, it adds a lot of pressure that I don't know how to get rid of. Such as
My hands getting super shaky and making it very difficult to turn fast or accurate
 
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Slowpoke22

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Anyway, it's probably helpful to cube in public so you get used to that feeling of being watched as you solve (regardless of whether anyone is actually paying attention). While competing, concentrate on your solves more than the timing, and don't start freaking out if you get a bad solve or two. Take a few deep breaths before your solve and slow down a little more than you think you should, because you might naturally try and go too fast (similar to public speaking, when people talk way too fast or become unfocused). Keep the idea of getting a WR out of your mind entirely, even if you think it's attainable. Thinking "this should be WR avg/single (or even PB)" before or during solves will definitely slow you down. That's my $0.02, coming from someone who is much slower than you and equally or more nervous than you are during competition. ;)
 
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Hays

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Really, it's almost impossible to stay completely calm at competitions. The only good advice I would have is never to start your solves before you are ready. Even if you think you're taking up too much time, starting early could ruin your solve.

Other than that, only experience helps really. And once you have a WR or whatever you are trying to get, it's way easier to stay calm.
 

emolover

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I do not get very nervous during competitions but what I use to do the first competitions is block out everything during my solves. I literally don't even register the sound of the competition and mostly just see the cube and the timer. This also happens to me during my races for XC and Track.

But I don't have the weight of potential WR resting on my shoulders. The closest I have is 7x7 and I am still 50-60 seconds off of that.
 
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AJ Blair

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I see cubing as a hobby, as something that I enjoy doing. I'm not doing it to impress others or to achieve certain goals. This is the reason that I don't get nervous at competitions, because even though I may have spent money to get to the competition, I'm doing something I love. By just viewing cubing as something that you happen to be good at, but something that you love doing, you won't be as nervous, and you will focus on what's really important, HAVING FUN!
 

Escher

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It's something I've been thinking about (and getting annoyed about) for a very long time...
I once asked Daniel (Sheppz) how he could be so close to his solve times at home in every event and he said 'Why, what other speed am I supposed to be?'.

I think this says an awful lot about the attitude good competitors have which you see in a lot of sports - don't doubt yourself too much, don't think 'because it's a competition I'll do x thing differently', don't think anything more than just 'lolk solve time now'.

Putting that into practise is another thing entirely, however...
 

JianhanC

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Breathe, and imagining yourself seeing the pieces (my mindset: it's only 4 pairs of F2L) and solve as though no one is looking at you. That's what I did for Megaminx, at least :/
 

cmhardw

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Wow, fun topic :) I like reading people's responses so far.

For me I would say that I:
1) Practice a lot beforehand so that everything about your solving becomes muscle memory. This will help you be able to know what to do even when you're under pressure.

2) Practice some in public before the competition (at a coffee shop, in the mall) to get used to the nervous feeling of cubing in front of others. Don't worry about your times when you do this, you're practicing cubing in PUBLIC, not cubing FAST in public.

3) At the competition on the day of, try not to talk to people between solves. It's nice to talk to people yes, but if you talk to people between solves you lose your focus. Put on your blindfold/earmuffs/headphones etc. to make it obvious that you're concentrating right now and don't want to talk to anyone.

4) Remember a time in competition that you got really, really nervous and did not perform well - then don't do that this time. I know this sounds a little weird, but it helps me. My worst ever solve was my second solve in the 4x4x4 round at the 2003 world competition. My mind completely froze up blank and I felt like I completely forgot how to pair edges (I didn't have the procedure down as muscle memory, see #1). My solve time was literally almost double my usual times because once I realized that I was freezing up I began to panic, and this made me freeze up even more which made me panic even more. Once you know what this feeling feels like, you can recognize the first signs of it again. If you ever feel yourself start to freeze/panic again then just take slow deep breaths and allow yourself to calm down. Don't let yourself get into "red zone", allow yourself to calm down.

5) Compete inwardly, NOT outwardly.

Competing inwardly means to compete such as to beat your own personal goals, as they relate to your times only. Try to beat the result you got at the last competition (beat the time you got, NOT your placement in the competition). Try to beat your pb single or average, etc.

Competing outwardly means "I will beat YOU". An example is "I will place in the top 10", or "I will podium", or "I will break the WR". Competing outwardly is VERY stressful, but competing inwardly is not as much.

6) Do whatever it takes on competition day to help focus. For me, this now means wearing blinders and earmuffs during most of my solves. It looks crazy/stupid/strange whatever you want to call it, but it helps me focus. If it helps me focus, then I use it. I broke my pb 3x3x3 average record at Worlds 2011, in large part because I could only see the cube in front of me during my solves, which helped me focus. I also got both 5x5x5 BLD solves successfully, and at a large competition with high stakes. I haven't done that since 2006 at US Nationals. In short, yes I look stupid wearing all that crap on my head, but I don't care. It helps me focus, so I use ALL of that stuff.

Find what helps you focus (that is allowable by the WCA regulations of course) and USE it.
 

insane569

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The way I think of it, No one there knows me and the only person watching is my mom or other family. They've seen me solve before so its a normal day and a normal solve. If I'm doing BLD I think no one is watching me since their focusing on the "faster" people. And I take deep breathes before a BLD just to make sure I'm getting oxygen.
 

Ninja Storm

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What I've found really helpful is to completely simulate a competition environment. I sat at my breakfast counter with a piece of paper and my timer, and I pretended to be my own judge, and I timed my inspections. Interestingly, I became extremely nervous during my solves.

However, that died down after a couple of solves. What I'd try and do is borrow a timer from the competition for a little bit, have a friend or whoever drove you there practice being your judge, and just practice under stressful conditions. It lets your brain know what you should and shouldn't be focusing on, and helps you drown out other noises.
 

noobcubefail

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I've never been to a competition or cubed but I do play piano and go to recitals, competitions (like an upcoming scholarship one and a concerto competition next year where I'm supposed to memorize and play an entire concerto, probably Mozart), etc. You might be calm after going to a couple because you've done it many times, or it might be like this for your first one because you've played around with your cube enough to be calm at all costs (maybe). It happened to me after going to a lot of recitals and such. I don't even find myself nervous. I might get tense every once in a while but it's really easy for me to notice so I just take a second to release the strain from my muscles. Some people take deep breathes, but I can just immediately release the tension. It's like a gift. :p
 

AvidCuber

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I've never actually been to a cubing competition, but I've done innumerable competitions and performances for music (all-state auditions, youth symphony auditions, not to mention countless performances), so I don't usually get that nervous for things like that anymore. Sometimes, I do get a little bit nervous, but it's completely natural so I don't worry about it. If I'm feeling shaky or if my breathing is really trembly (a really bad thing for playing a wind instrument), I usually just take a deep breath and tell myself that there will always be more opportunities to play and that I'm just there for the experience of competing/performing, not for dominating the world.

Also, just try not to expect something of yourself. If you're expecting yourself to do an amazing job before the competition, then you'll feel more pressure to do well at the competition and you'll also be more disappointed if you don't do well, whereas if you don't give yourself high expectations, then you can calm down a little bit more.
 

Rubiks560

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Thanks for the input guys! I'll be trying some of these I'm sure. I'm not worried about people watching me, I really couldn't care less about that. I'm just nervous about chocking and then throwing away any chances of doing good at the competition.
 

AJ Blair

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Thanks for the input guys! I'll be trying some of these I'm sure. I'm not worried about people watching me, I really couldn't care less about that. I'm just nervous about chocking and then throwing away any chances of doing good at the competition.
The way I've always seen it is...If I don't do well this competition, I'll just try again at my next competition. You basically have unlimited chances to achieve whatever personal goal you have.
 

Quadrescence

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Hey, just curious, how do you keep calm when under pressure at competitions?
I haven't found a good way to keep calm yet, with people telling me "Hey break WR!" or something similar, it adds a lot of pressure that I don't know how to get rid of. Such as
My hands getting super shaky and making it very difficult to turn fast or accurate
Easy, I just release a visible suspension of typically carbon and other particles into the atmosphere via an exothermic process of an oxidation reaction and then take advantage of the difference in air pressure caused by voluntary musculo-pulmonary actions.
 
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